Top Online CAD Schools (Computer Aided Design)
Computer-aided design software and now computer-aided drafting and design software, commonly called CAD or CADD programs, enable mechanical and architectural drafters to prepare technical plans for any number of engineering projects. The software allows the technical plans to be programmed in to automated manufacturing systems. Some programs, such as building information modeling and product data management programs, allow the tracking of the project’s data and control of its progress by shared designers. These programs also allow multiple project members to collaborate on a project’s design simultaneously.
Drafters, also known as CAD/CADD operators, are responsible for making architects’ or engineers’ drawings possible. They convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings and plans complete with measurements, analysis and costs. These plans provide the detailed, visual instruction for every step of the project.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov, 2012), an associate degree program could prepare students for a potential career as a drafter or an apprentice drafter. Although some schools do not offer bachelor’s degrees in drafting, they do provide classes in drafting, as well as degrees in engineering—where the use of CAD is important.
U.S. News & World Report has compiled a list of their top online engineering schools based on student engagement and accreditation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends an education in engineering or architecture for aspiring drafters and, in turn, these schools could be potential resources for students desiring to learn CAD/CADD software or prepare for a profession in drafting or engineering. The following schools are U.S. News & World Report’s top online engineering schools, ranked in 2012:
1. University of Wisconsin, Madison
2. Lawrence Technological University
3. Pennsylvania State University, University Park
4. Texas A&M University, Kingsville
5. Polytechnic Institute of New York University
6. California State University, Northridge
7. Florida Institute of Technology
8. Mississippi State University
9. Ohio State University, Columbus
10. University of Arizona
Below are some of the drafting focuses available from online schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com
According to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), drafters are increasingly relying on computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software to perform their jobs and the bureau recommends current drafters gain experience with these new systems as the software will play a larger role in the profession during the coming years.
Additionally, the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) notes that because of the reliance upon CADD software for performing the job, many technical institutes may offer software certificates or associate degrees focusing on the fundamentals of design and sketching in addition to CADD software.
The median annual wage for drafters, according to the BLS, was $49,200 nationally in 2011, with the top ten percent earning $77,110 nationally and the bottom ten percent earning $32,260 nationally in 2011 (BLS.gov, 2012). Employment is projected to grow up to six percent between 2010 and 2020 (BLS.gov, 2012).
Learn more about accredited drafting programs from online schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com
When researching online colleges and universities, make sure to verify that your choice of school is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council or by another accrediting agency that approved by The U.S. Department of Education or The Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or both. DETC and CHEA both provide a searchable list of approved schools.
For schools offering degrees or certificates in drafting, verify that your school has been accredited by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, which provides a search tool for locating accredited schools.
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